Murder trial jury asked to consider self-defence plea
A murder trial jury has been told that the main issue of the case is whether a 34-year-old Dublin man acted in self-defence when he stabbed a 23-year-old to death last year.
Thomas Kinsella of Orchid House on James’s Street in the city has gone on trial at the Central Criminal Court, charged with murdering John Murdoch on August 27, 2011.
He has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Murdoch on Cushlawn Way - Cushlawn Dale in Tallaght.
Dominic McGinn SC, prosecuting, opened the trial before the jury of seven women and five men today.
The barrister said that Mr Murdoch was stabbed shortly after midnight on August 26 last year.
He said that the deceased was standing with two friends outside a shop in the Cushlawn estate when they became involved in a verbal altercation with another group.
He said it was the prosecution case that this other group comprised Mr Kinsella, along with another man and a woman.
Mr McGinn said that the altercation moved deeper into the estate and then turned violent.
He said it was the State’s case that Mr Kinsella was the only member of his group to be involved in the physical confrontation.
“Mr Kinsella pulled out a knife and stabbed John Murdoch in the chest,” he said, adding that Mr Kinsella then used the knife to threaten Mr Murdoch’s two friends.
“He then stabbed John Murdoch another time,” he continued.
“John Murdoch was shouting at the time: ‘You’ve already stabbed me’. Yet Mr Kinsella continued,” said Mr McGinn.
He said that the accused then ran off before the gardaí arrived.
Mr McGinn explained that Mr Murdoch was not breathing when he was rushed to Tallaght Hospital with what appeared to be two stab wounds. He did not recover and was pronounced dead just before 1am.
The jury was told that a post-mortem examination found that Mr Murdoch had actually suffered three stab wounds, the fatal wound penetrating his heart.
Mr McGinn said that Mr Kinsella later approached a garda at Tallaght Garda Station, telling him he knew something about the stabbing and that he would made contact later. He did not make contact later and was arrested and questioned the following day.
“He said he’d stabbed John Murdoch,” said the barrister.
The jury heard that he told gardaí that the other group had attacked his group with bricks and bottles, that he’d got separated from his friends and had to protect himself.
He told gardaí where he’d hidden the knife and this was recovered, the court heard.
Mr McGinn explained that the pathologist confirmed that this home-made knife could have caused Mr Murdoch’s injuries.
The jury heard that the defendant’s friends also told gardaí that the other men were the aggressors.
“That’s likely to be the main issue of the case: whether or not Mr Kinsella was acting in self-defence,” said Mr McGinn.
He explained that an intention to kill was not necessary for murder and that an intention to cause serious injury was enough. He said the jury was entitled to presume that, in stabbing Mr Murdoch in the chest, the defendant intended to cause at least serious injury
“If you’re under attack, you’re entitled to use reasonable force to defend yourself,” he confirmed. He said it would be up to the 12 jurors to decide if this happened.
“It’s up to the prosecution to prove that he wasn’t acting in self-defence, that what he did wasn’t lawful,” he concluded.
The trial before Mr Justice Barry White is expected to last six days.